About 200 association professionals met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill last week to voice their opinions on issues of importance to associations, including meetings and conventions.
The effort was initiated by the American Society of Association Executives as part of American Associations Day. ASAE’s Legislative Fly-In, held March 31–April 1, gave association professionals the opportunity to meet face-to-face with their local lawmakers and express their views on association-related issues.
The importance of meetings was among the issues on the agenda, said Jim Clarke, CAE, senior vice president of public policy at ASAE. “In the recent uproar over the use of taxpayer funds for AIG trips, some rhetoric used in the debate seemed to lump legitimate meetings with ‘junkets,’ which ASAE wanted to clarify to Congress,” stated Clarke. Participants shared with their representatives in Congress a letter authored by ASAE CEO John Graham about the value ofto the economy.
Wrote Graham: “Now is not the time to exacerbate the decline of a vital industry in the United States. Meetings and events are crucial to the bottom line of associations like ours and those of our members, and we must have policies in place that allow these legitimate meetings to take place. Given the dollars at stake, meetings and events should be a key contributor to America’s economic recovery, not further evidence of its precipitous decline.”
According to Clark, the ASAE delegation received positive feedback from lawmakers about meetings, and word is spreading throughout Washington. Participants from Ohio, for example, were given a copy of a letter sent by Congressman Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, and Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner defending the value of association meetings.